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Archive for myanmar

Center of the Universe

By Linda Tancs

The center of the universe in Buddhist cosmology is the mythical Mount Meru (not to be confused with the active stratovolcano of the same name in Tanzania). It’s depicted at the base of a snow-white pagoda in Myanmar known as Hsinbyume in the form of circular terraces representing the mountain peaks. The imposing structure was commissioned centuries ago by Prince Bagyidaw to honor the memory of Princess Hsinbyume (literally, White Elephant), who died during childbirth. Climb the stairway to the top and you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the banks of the Irrawaddy River and its accompanying vistas north of Mandalay.

The World’s Largest Book

By Linda Tancs

Mandalay is Myanmar’s second largest city, an exotic locale celebrated in a namesake poem by Rudyard Kipling. Among its charms is the riveting Kuthodaw Pagoda, located at the southeastern base of Mandalay Hill, where it was prophesied that a Buddhist metropolis (named after the hill) would take root. The unique feature of this temple is the 729 miniature pagodas surrounding the central shrine. Each of these smaller shrines contains a marble tablet inscribed with a page of text from the Tipitaka, the Buddhist sacred scriptures. Assembled together, the tablets would cover about one third of an acre or rise to a height over 300 feet. No wonder, then, that these pages are hailed as the world’s largest book.

The Perfect Gem in Myanmar

By Linda Tancs

Ninety percent of the world’s sapphires and rubies are sourced from Myanmar (Burma), Mogok being one of the country’s most prolific gem areas.   A good bauble will cost you plenty, but you can admire the nation’s precious natural resource at the Myanmar Gems Museum in Yangon.  On display are rubies, sapphires, jade (prevalent in Mandalay) and pearls.

The World’s Longest Teak Bridge

By Linda Tancs

In Myanmar’s ancient capital Amarapura you’ll find the expected ruins of the palace and tombs of old kings.  But what survives in the old capital is even more stunning:  a teak bridge spanning 1.2 kilometers.  The longest teak bridge, U Bein Bridge was built from pieces of the city’s dismantled teak palace when the capital moved to Mandalay.  Enjoy the view at sunset.

An Illuminating Sight

By Linda Tancs

The cooler autumn air in Myanmar is warmed up a bit with the cascade of lighting taking place during the Tazaungdaing Festival.  During November’s full moon, women weave saffron-colored robes as an offering to the Buddhist monks.  More than just a robe-weaving festival, though, the event’s highlight is the vast illumination of pagodas, monasteries and even office buildings with colored lanterns and candles.  As Saint Thomas Aquinas once said, “Better to illuminate than merely to shine.”


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